AMD’s Mantle API, since its inception has been considered to be a fairly exclusive program with AMD getting hundreds of requests (if not thousands) from developers all around the world to test out Mantle. Obviously, a company of AMD’s size isn’t entirely capable of supporting thousands of developers, yet. AMD is still struggling to achieve profitability and cannot commit enough engineering resources to the Mantle team in order to really give Mantle the attention it needs. Yes, Mantle is a proprietary set of low-level APIs and does give game developers unparalleled flexibility and that is why so many developers are excited to take a crack at it. Even though Mantle only works on AMD hardware (and probably will for the foreseeable future), DirectX 12 is simply too far down the road (18 months) for anyone to even start thinking about anything other than Mantle. DirectX 12 will also have certain features that will only be available in hardware, which will mean new DirectX 12 capable GPU architectures will be necessary in order to enable those features.
Today’s announcement regarding Mantle is probably the biggest announcement AMD has made around Mantle since they talked about it at GDC in March. Back then, AMD was talking a lot about Mantle’s capabilities and games with Mantle, but they didn’t talk about the expansion of the program much, even though that was probably their most captive audience. In fact, making today’s announcement about the closed beta should probably have been done at GDC as that would have been their target audience and they could have even spoken directly with most of the interested developers. Alas, it was probably not ready yet for a beta release and they waited until today to make the announcement. Either way, you can now head over to an actual beta page for Mantle and access the NDA SDK if you are given access by AMD. In all honesty, Mantle has technically already been a closed-beta program for quite some time and this announcement doesn’t really seem to change much other than create a public page.
You still have to email mantleaccess [at] amd [dot] com in order to even get access to the page and/or SDK and you have to supply them with the following info:
- Name of company
- Name and email of contact point for Mantle access
- Game title(s) or codenames for which you are interested to evaluate Mantle for
- Reasons for requesting Mantle access
Once you’ve emailed them at that email address with that info you MIGHT get access to Mantle and you COULD start developing with Mantle, but there simply aren’t any guarantees since AMD is still selecting who they do and don’t want using Mantle. AMD claims that they’ve already got 40 different developers using Mantle with this new beta program and are looking to expand it further, even though we don’t exactly know how many developers AMD can really support simultaneously and still do it well. I want Mantle to be successful and to be broadly accepted, but in the end it is still a proprietary graphics API which means it will only work on AMD’s GCN cores and nobody else’s and I’m not sure how many developers are going to want to develop games for both Mantle and DirectX 12.